4 Ways to Jumpstart a Healthy Habit in the New Year

2013 is almost officially in the history books!  In general it has been a fairly good year.  The Red Sox won the World Series. The Patriots look like they are going to the Post-Season.  But how has the year been for you relative to your health and fitness?  Are you where you want to be physically?  As 2013 winds to a close, this time of year brings the promise of hope for good things to come.  It gives us a chance to start fresh and have an opportunity for a new beginning.

In my circle of friends, nine times out of ten, New Years is associated with getting healthy, exercising more, and losing weight.  However, most of my friends never actually achieve their goals.  So how can we make sure that we do achieve our health goals this year?  Let’s go to the experts for a few helpful hints to ensure that you are successful in meeting your health goals for 2014!

1)   Take your time – Starting any new routine takes patience.  It takes an average of 66 days to make a habit. This means you may have to practice a new healthy behavior about 66 days in a row before it becomes part of your new routine. Set your expectations and know that developing a new healthy habit is hard and will take some time.  Don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning.

2)   Make a plan – Take a look at your schedule.  See when exercise and activity can fit into your week and literally plan it out.  Put it into your calendar.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 min of activity 7 days per week.  See how you can realistically fit that in.  It doesn’t all have to be in the gym either.  Walking can count as exercise too.

3)   Be realistic – Don’t set goals that are unattainable for yourself, or you will fail.  Don’t set a goal of going to the gym 7 days per week if it doesn’t fit into your life.  Going to the gym 2-3 times per week for 40-60 min consistently is much better than going to the gym 7 days per week for one week and then quitting.  Set achievable goals that you can maintain.

4)   Keep track of your results – The research has found that individuals who keep track of their activity, food intake, or exercise do better than those who don’t.  Consider getting a pedometer.  Make a spreadsheet of your exercise.

None of these hints are particularly earth shattering; however all of them have been proven to get results.  Take control of your health in the upcoming year.  Set a few attainable and realistic goals, give yourself time to achieve then, make a plan for yourself, and hold yourself accountable.

If you do these simple things, there is no limit to what you can achieve in 2014!

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Diana grew up in a small suburb north of Boston. She received her clinical doctorate degree in Physical Therapy at Boston University in 2006. Diana started practicing as a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital. While at MGH, she developed a specialty in the evaluation and treatment of complex lumbopelvic dysfunction. Diana is currently practicing at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston where she is the Orthopedic Clinical Supervisor of the Spine program. She is presently a Boston resident and her interests outside physical therapy include cooking, walking on the Esplanade, and international travel.

One Response to “4 Ways to Jumpstart a Healthy Habit in the New Year”

  1. Nancy says:

    Walking.There are so many neighborhoods and parks to walk around.Plus it’s a good time to catch up with a friend.You start talking and don’t even notice how far you have gone.Doesn’t feel like excercise at all.Just a fun outing.